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Village Acts on Distressed Properties

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By Derek. M. Otto

The Springville Village Board of Trustees met on Dec. 5.  Opening the meeting, they approved the minutes and executive session minutes from the meeting on Nov. 21. There was no public comment at this meeting.

The board moved to reports, beginning with Village Administrator Liz Melock. The first order of business was for the board to approve the Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation (BENLIC ) resolution  that allows the village to ask BENLIC to acquire six properties in the village.  The properties are: 128 Waverly Street, 48 Albro Avenue, 228 Newman Street, 227 North Street, and two vacant lots, one on Clark Street and the other on W. Main Street. If acquired by BENLIC, they would be improved and sold with the intent of returning them on the tax rolls. The property at 118 Pearl Street has been removed from the list at the request of its owner, and was replaced by the property at 228 Newman Street  The village would reimburse BENLIC $1,350 for the costs of foreclosure.  After the properties are returned to the tax rolls, 50 percent would be repaid to BENLIC for five years. The board approved the resolution.   

In furthering the business of distressed properties in the village,  the board moved to authorize the bidding process for the demolition of the property at 110 South Central Ave.  At the Nov. 21 the board decided through Local Law 2016-06,Chapter 77 to demolish of property for public safety.  The property has been abandoned for some time and has been increasingly problematic for the village.  Citibank, which held a lien on the property for some time, has not expressed interest in the property. Code officer Mike Kaleta commented on the trouble he had securing the building this past week and the property is deteriorating at an exponential rate.   There has been some asbestos found on the property that might complicate the bidding process. The board approved the resolution, allowing for the bids to open.  The board expects the bids to come in anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000, depending on the cost of the asbestos abatement.

The board approved a resolution for the bidding of the restrooms at the Heritage Park project site.  The restrooms are being removed from the current contract on the park. The work will be done by the village itself. Superintendent of Public Works Kenneth Kostowniak said he has done this in other DPW projects and it becomes cheaper in the end of the project. The current contractor will complete utility work.    

Melock presented two more resolutions to the board:  the first, Local Law 2016-7 to file annexation of the property at South Cascade into the village. The second was to approve the critique and corrective measures from a recent audit of the village books. The recent audit lasted three months and covered a period from 2014 to present.

As Bill Krebs commented, “This was a period of high purchasing and projects for the village.”  The criticism of the audit showed seven areas in which the board and village needed to improve the process in procurements.  Some of the corrections were made when Melock came on as administrator. A major correction that was needed was that the board needed to make resolutions on not only purchase, but also on the bidding process.  They had not been using State of New York contracts or Erie County approved bids for procurements, such as gasoline.  The village will now be fueling its vehicles at the school district bus garage. The village will benefit by getting the state bid rate for gasoline.  The board approved the critique and corrective measures recommended by the audit.

Superintendent of Public Works Kenneth Kostowniak reported electrical engineer Doug Strang will have a bid prepared for  January.  Kostowniak said the progress of the fire hall addition is coming along.  The deadline is now to have the trucks in the bays by Dec. 30. The windows and doors should be in place by the end of next week.  The interior work on the offices, such as drywall and painting, will continue into the new year.

Heritage Park will see a lot of work this week. The lighting, trees and picnic shelter should be in place this week.  Work on the park will end this week and resume in the late winter/early spring months.

Officer in Charge Nick Budney reported that there were 93 calls responded to by the village police department and 431 calls responded to by Erie County Sheriff’s Department. He commented that Jendrowski will be the youth liaison for the Springville Police Department.  Offer Jendrowski will work with the School Resource Officer, SYI and the Boys in Girls Club to help build relationships with youth and the police department.   The goal is a lower instance of calls coming into the department relating to youth.

Code enforcement Officer Mike Kaleta made a request that the board change the fee schedule to include a charge of $25 as a replacement fee for the Certificates of Occupancy issued at fire inspections.  These declare the number of people that can safely occupy as space.  For instance,  the upstairs of 65 Franklin Street’s Certificate of Occupancy is 144. It seems that many businesses and organizations do not post these permits and they are lost.  To pass inspection this certificate must be posted. Kaleta then has to reprint and deliver such permits.  Trustee Moriarty asked if we charge for this certificate in the first place and if $25 was enough to enforce it.   Kaleta commented that the village does not, and that certificates are issued in the initial fire inspection or building inspection.  It is costing time to print and deliver these certificates.   Alan Chamberlain agreed to start at $25 and increase it if it is not effective.  The board motioned approved the change in fee schedule Local Law 73-11.  Mayor Krebs commented,“With the events in Oakland this past week, we really need to take such matters seriously.  These codes are put in place to protect people.”

The board made the decision to cancel the Dec. 19 board meeting and extended holiday wishes to all. The next broad meeting will be Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 65 Franklin Street.

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